Friday, January 27, 2012

Easy, money saving, Healthy and Chemical Free way to make Microwave Popcorn

Pop Corn evokes such wonderful memories for me.  If you've read my blog Russian Tea, with reflections of how smells can bring back a memory, then you'll have seen my comment about "popcorn in a paper bag with cheese, yum".   

Years ago, I let myself get a little overweight.  Turns out, that eating a biscotti with a cup of hot chocolate every night, and drinking a strawberry milk shake everyday makes ones clothes shrink. A lot. Couple that with a love of popcorn covered in butter, and you've got yourself a fast track to Sumo wrestler-ville. I went on a weight loss challenge.  I bought a cd-rom that would load a food, drink, calorie, and calories burned tracking program on my computer.  I kept a food journal to find out where those little hidden calories were coming in to play.  I wrote down everything I ate, drank and snacked on.  Including a piece of candy, gum, mint, cookie, everything.  I found out that a gumball has 25 calories, I found out I don't drink nearly enough water, and I found out that doing some exercise is better than not doing anything. This program even tracked housework, sweeping, dusting, and the like.  It was great.  By keeping the food journal, I was able to see that most of my calories were consumed at night, while I watched t.v.  I noticed, that I ate even when I wasn't hungry.  I ate out of boredom, or habit.  My solution?  I joined a health club, and walked on the stair master from 8-9 pm, every night.  The club had a t.v. in front of every machine, so I plugged in my ear phones watched my favorite shows and worked out instead of eating.  It took about a year to finally get down to the weight I wanted to be.  This time I did it the healthy way.  I was very happy with myself.  Once my weight and eating were under control I had to find out how to enjoy my favorite foods in a healthy way.  There's not a very healthy way of enjoying biscotti and hot chocolate.  My plan, if I worked out all week, ate healthy foods, drank enough water, and didn't snack on junk, then on Saturday I could indulge in one or two treats.  Generally I chose to eat a small cup of ice cream, but sometimes I would have some microwave  popcorn.

One day I was reading an article about the dangers of microwave popcorn.  It was so long ago, I can't place the article, but it was about the chemicals they put into the popcorn.  The article stated that most people love to breathe in the steam of the popcorn when the bag is opened, and that is dangerous as they then inhale chemicals that are basically poison.  If you search, "Dangers of microwave popcorn", this link to  ""  comes up which relates to chemicals in microwave popcorn linked to cancer and other things.  I don't like the thought of anything I eat causing cancer.  Triclosan is an edocrine blocker, a carcinogen and is used in pesticides, it's also found in toothpaste and antibacterial hand soaps, along with a host of other products "safe" for humans.  Once I found out about that, I cleaned the house out of anything with Triclosan or with the description of Microban.  Did I stop eating microwave popcorn? Of course.  

Now I was left with a problem.  Popping the popcorn on the stove was too much bother and mess. Although I felt a tinge of guilt because that's how I enjoyed the popcorn my "other dad", Jonce, makes it.  He then puts the popcorn in a giant paper bag, brings out a plate of cheddar cheese for us all to enjoy. Oh well, maybe there's another solution?

My kitchen, at the time, was way too small to keep a hot air popper on the counter.  What to do, what to do.  I wonder, will pop corn kernels pop in the microwave without all the chemicals?  Only one way to find out.  I got a paper lunch bag, left the bottom of the bag folded then poured some popcorn kernels in it along with a pat or two of butter.  Folded the top shut, placed it in the middle of the microwave just like I did with the store bought stuff, pressed the popcorn button and held my breath.  IT WORKED!  Extremely messy, not a lot of butter flavor, greasy bag full of freshly popped popcorn!  I poured it into a bowl, cut a serving of Colby cheese and ate with a giant smile on my face.  

The next time I popped my chemical free popcorn, I didn't add butter, just plain old pop corn kernels and a brown paper lunch bag.  The white ones get holes in them and tear easily, so I don't use them.  I then melt a tablespoon of butter, drizzle over the top add salt and enjoy with a serving of Colby cheese, cut into bite sized squares.  Handful of popcorn, bite of cheese, heaven.  

Delicious, Healthy and Chemical Free Popcorn:

Purchase 1 pack of brown paper lunch bags (about $3)
Purchase 1 jar of popcorn kernels (about $4)

3 Tablespoons of popcorn kernels
1 Brown paper lunch bag 

1 tablespoon of unsalted butter, melted
Kosher salt
1 serving of Colby cheese squares

Keep the lunch bag folded at the bottom
Pour in 3 tablespoons of popcorn (any more than that and it wastes the kernels as they will not all pop)
Seal the top with one fold and use fingernail to seal it very well
Place folded side down in middle of microwave
Press the "popcorn" button (or 3 minutes) on your microwave (all are different test to find your microwaves perfect popcorn time)
As with the store bought kind, listen until the popping is less than 3 seconds between pops so it doesn't burn.  

Melt the butter and pour over top, shake well then add salt, shaking to evenly coat.  
Serve with your choice of beverage and the cheese, it's a treat plus you've saved money and are not breathing nor eating dangerous chemicals.

Another good idea is to hold off on the butter, and cheese.  Instead use your favorite bite sized candy or sweet cereal with the popcorn.  In church camp, we watched a movie late one night and decided it would be fun to add candy to our popcorn.  We were right, fun and fantastically pleasing to the taste buds including the sweet tooth. 

Mini Chocolate chips
Mini boxes of cereal

I chose Fruit Loops and skittles, I can't say I've ever had better popcorn.  The combinations are endless, just remember two words; "Serving Size".  You'll do fine, if not, take an extra workout to burn off those calories!

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